The bull market has a lot to answer for. Only an irrational financial bubble could explain Jacobia Triptree’s success in her former career as a Wall Street financial manager. In her current incarnation as amateur sleuth, she’s transparently incompetent. The owner of an 1823 house in Eastport, Maine, Jacobia interrupts her unending home repairs to visit her friend Faye Anne Carmody, only to find the dismembered head of Faye Anne’s husband Merle wrapped in paper in the Carmodys’ butcher shop. Faye Anne, long a victim of Merle’s alcoholic brutality, makes an obvious culprit, complete with bloody apron and gloves. Aided and abetted by her friend Ellie, an Eastport native, Jacobia works to clear Faye Anne, but there are complications. Kenty Dalrymple, the Carmodys’ elderly neighbor, drops dead soon after insisting she didn’t see anyone the night of the murder. When Jacobia serves state law investigators and her immediate circle a boiled dinner, her ex-husband Victor brings his date, local bad girl Joy Abrams, infamous for a strip routine that included a snake. Frustrated because Joy’s younger sister Willetta is keeping him from making progress, Victor enlists Jacobia’s help in the romance. But Jacobia has no more luck with Joy than she and Ellie do repeating their serial “j’accuse” around town. They impulsively confront a stalker, a blackmail victim, a sister impervious to cold, and assorted liars with no regard for their safety or the likelihood of the accused being Merle’s killer.
Charming prose undermined by hopeless plotting and the heroine’s blundering: for fans of the previously paperback series (Repair to Her Grave, etc.) only.